‘Gran Torino’ Opens as Top Movie With $29 Million

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

By Michael White and Jim Efstathiou Jr.

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The Clint Eastwood drama “Gran Torino” opened in first place at U.S. and Canadian theaters this weekend, taking in $29 million for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.
The film beat out the Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson comedy “Bride Wars,” which made $21.5 million, Media By Numbers LLC said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Gran Torino” is the latest successful collaboration between the 78-year-old Eastwood and Warner Bros., which has produced hits “Million Dollar Baby” and “Mystic River” in collaboration with the actor. Warner Bros. was the top grossing movie studio with $1.77 billion in sales last year, according to Burbank, California-based Box Office Mojo LLC.

“It’s Clint Eastwood in the type of movie people want to see him in,” said Brandon Gray, publisher of Box Office Mojo, in an interview today. “Rough and down to business, and he’s in action. It’s not surprising that it did very well.”

In “Gran Torino,” Eastwood plays an aging Korean War veteran who must overcome his prejudice to help Hmong neighbors battle a violent gang. Eastwood, who also directed the film, won the best-actor award from the National Board of Review for his performance.
‘Bride Wars’

Warner Bros. released “Gran Torino” five weeks ago in a limited number of theaters. This week, the studio expanded distribution by 2,724 movie houses.

“The release pattern and the strategy behind ‘Gran Torino’ was pitch perfect,” Media By Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian said in an interview. “Warner’s coming off a terrific ‘08 and now they’re kicking off ‘09 in great fashion.”

In “Bride Wars,” Hathaway and Hudson play best friends who become rivals after learning their wedding dates conflict. Audiences ignored the film’s critics, most of whom gave the picture low ratings. Of 92 reviews posted on Rottentomatoes.com, 81 were negative.

Among other new releases, Rogue Pictures’ horror film “The Unborn” was third with sales of $21.1 million. “The Unborn” follows the travails of a young woman tormented by a demon intent on taking over her body. The film stars Odette Yustman and Gary Oldman.
‘Benjamin Button’

“Marley & Me” dropped to fourth place from first with sales of $11.4 million. The film starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston has earned $123.7 million to date in the U.S. and Canada. The movie is based on a memoir by former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Grogan.

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” fell to fifth from third with $9.5 million. The film, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, has made $94.3 million in three weeks of release.
Receipts for the top 12 movies rose 22 percent to $129.8 million from a year earlier, Los Angeles-based Media By Numbers said.

The following table has figures provided by studios to Media By Numbers. The amounts are based on actual ticket sales from Jan. 9 and yesterday and estimates for today. Movie Rev. Theaters Wks Avg./ Pct. Total
($mln) Theater Chg. ($mln)
1. Gran Torino $29.0 2,808 5 $10,337 888 $40.1
2. Bride Wars 21.5 3,226 1 6,665 - 21.5
3. The Unborn 21.1 2,357 1 8,950 - 21.1
4. Marley & Me 11.4 3,478 3 3,263 -53 123.7
5. Benjamin Button 9.45 2,947 3 3,207 -49 94.3
6. Bedtime Stories 8.55 3,511 3 2,435 -58 97.2
7. Valkyrie 6.66 2,838 3 2,347 -53 71.5
8. Yes Man 6.16 2,955 4 2,083 -56 89.4
9. Not Easily 5.6 724 1 7,735 - 5.6
10. Seven Pounds 3.9 2,456 4 1,588 -61 66.8

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite@bloomberg.net. and To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Efstathiou Jr. in New York at jefstathiou@bloomberg.net


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